Chef Michael Leviton’s 10 things every cook should know

I was searching the web for 10 things every cook should know and what do you know, I found this article in the Boston Globe written by Matt Barber.  There is a short video that accompanies this article. -Crystal A. Johnson

NEWTON — All chefs have their own way of doing things: cutting an onion, roasting potatoes, making a basic sauce. And all chefs will tell you their way is the right way.

It’s no wonder then, with so many celebrity chefs, cookbooks, and food personalities on TV, that home cooks are confused about even the most basic of kitchen tasks.

Enter Michael Leviton, chef and owner of Lumiere in Newton and chef and partner of Area Four in Cambridge. Leviton is no stranger to basic cooking instruction: He teaches in Boston University’s culinary arts program, and has worked with young chefs right out of school, so he’s aware what novices know and don’t know. As recent college graduates strike out on their own, and newlyweds settle into their own places, the time to start building a lifetime repertoire of cooking skills is now.

“You master things by doing them over and over,” says Leviton. But cheat where it makes sense. “Look, I’ve got two kids. I don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen when I’m at home.” Translation: Open a can of beans instead of soaking the dried variety, or buy biscuits instead of baking them. Leviton’s list of the 10 cooking essentials covers the basics for many meals.

1. Blanch vegetables

Leviton demonstrates how to blanch geen beans and shock them in cold water.


This is a method of quickly cooking something in boiling water, then plunging it into ice water to stop the cooking process and lock in vibrant color. Leviton uses lots of salty water — his ratio is 1 cup salt to 1 gallon of water. “You want it to taste like the North Atlantic,” he says.

To blanch 1 pound of green beans to serve 4, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Have a large bowl of ice water nearby. Working in small batches, add beans to the rapidly boiling water and cook 3½ minutes, then use a slotted spoon to transfer them to the ice bath. Continue until all beans are cooked and cooled. Drain the beans, pat dry with paper towels, and saute briefly in a little butter or olive oil.